With extensive Roman ruins and a lively café scene, the southern French town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence has both historical importance and modern appeal. Nostradamus was born here, and Van Gogh spent one of his most productive periods in Saint-Rémy, so there’s plenty to do for art lovers and visitors interested in the region’s history.The Basics
In the Bouches-du-Rhône region, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is one of the oldest settlements in Provence, with ruins dating back to the third century BC. The expansive Glanum archaeological site details the different influences and remains from Gallic, Roman, and Greek settlements and makes for fascinating exploration.
Elsewhere, the town’s original 14th-century walls are still standing, including the stone arches used to pass in and out of town. The Nostradamus fountain in the Old Town celebrates the physician and astrologer who was born here in 1503. Fans of Van Gogh will enjoy the Van Gogh circuit, a walking route that takes in the sites of 21 of the artist’s works, including the much-loved Starry Night and Green Wheat Field with Cypress. Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- See the birthplace of Nostradamus on Rue Hoche in the Old Town.
- The historic center is only accessible on foot or by bike.
- The town hosts a vibrant market on Wednesday mornings.
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is located 12 miles (20 kilometers) south of Avignon. It’s accessible by car, or by bus from Avignon, the closest town with TGV train service. Local buses stop at major points around the town, from which the historic center is accessible on foot. When to Get There
Saint-Remy has a Mediterranean climate and is pleasant to visit year-round. It’s busiest in the summer months, when many tourists come to visit the archaeological sites and see the places that inspired Van Gogh.
The Asylum Where Van Gogh Stayed
In 1889, after cutting off part of his ear in the infamous fight with fellow painter Paul Gauguin, Van Gogh arrived as a patient at the Monastère de St-Paul-de-Mausole asylum in Saint-Remy. He stayed there for a year, during which he produced some of his most famous works. One wing of the psychiatric facility is open to the public daily (the rest still houses patients), and visitors can see the kind of living conditions that Van Gogh experienced while here.